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Edited by Sandra L. Fielden and Marilyn J. Davidson
Chapter 9: African American Women and Small Business Start-up: Backgrounds, Goals and Strategies used by African American Women in the Initialization and Operation of Small Businesses
Katherine Inman and Linda M. Grant Introduction African American women have increasingly entered entrepreneurship in recent years. Minority-owned ﬁrms grew four times faster than all US ﬁrms between 1992 and 1997. African American women owned 38 per cent of black ﬁrms1 (US Census Bureau, 2001), employed 25 per cent of the workers in black ﬁrms and generated 15 per cent of revenues. Six of the 11 States where black women have the greatest share of women-owned businesses are Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina, Alabama and North Carolina. Black women own businesses in all industries, although 74.6 per cent are in services (Center for Women’s Business Research, 2001). This chapter reviews theories of business start-up; historical development of African American entrepreneurship; and evidence from a qualitative study of black and white women entrepreneurs in the American South. Cases are used to analyse black women’s experiences, motivations, goals and strategies in business start-up and operations. Overview of current research Research on women-owned businesses often focuses on characteristics of individuals such as entrepreneurial ‘types’ (Goﬀee and Scase, 1985), high achievers (Bender, 1980), and balancing work and family needs (Cromie, 1987). Most studies focus on white women whose experiences do not necessarily coincide with African American women or white male entrepreneurs who establish high growth, high technology, venture capital ﬁrms expected to make public oﬀerings (see Thornton, 1999). Studies suggesting women lack skills and appropriate education (Loscocco and Robinson, 1991) tend to focus on individual women’s experiences and do not examine di...
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